light design: Tasos Palaioroutas
choreography: Yannis Nikolaidis
set design: Efi Birba
costumes: Vassilia Rozana
direction assistant: Vasia Attarian
project development: Judith Martin / Ligne Directe
cast: Angeliki Papoulia, Christos Passalis, Yorgos Valais, Maria Filini, Medie Megas, Fidel Talaboukas
Performance in Greek with English and Polish surtitles.
The end of the world in Greek: Blitz Theatre Group dances a surreal waltz of death over the ruins of Europe, brimming with unsophisticated melancholy and a fine sense of humour. When everything is disintegrating all you can do is wait for the end while passing the time. Why not with music and dance?
An apocalyptic world with three women and three men. Apparently their shabby festive dresses and their memories are all that is left to them. They are recounting fragmentary stories of the past, of a European war that appears as surreal as the colourful festive illumination of the rundown ballroom where the six people – not in the mood for partying at all – are gathered.
They call up memories of happier times and indulge in a farewell to Europe that is as breathtaking as it is depressing. And they are dancing. One waltz after the other, as if it were a matter of life and death, interrupted only by enthusiastically performed tricks. What are these people waiting for? What are they looking for?
The Blitztheatregroup is a creative collective formed in 2004 by three artists : Yorgos Valais, Angeliki Papoulia and Christos Passalis.
The group’s basic principles are the following: Theatre is a field where people meet each other and exchange ideas in the most essential way, not a field for virtuosity and ready made truths. There is a need for answers to what society asks from art today and what theatrical structures stand for in the dawn of the 21th century. All members are equal throughout conception, writing, direction and dramaturgy process, everything is under doubt, there is nothing to be taken for granted, neither in theatre nor in life.
In all their plays they ask the following question : how to represent a world that is in constant change and plunges people into perplexity ?
They present their first production, Motherland, in 2006. In 2007 they create New Order, simulation of a peculiar game show where the spectators play the part of a jury. The contestants are two divorced couples that try to solve the dead-ends of their relationship, reading each other’s letters in public, dancing, singing, cursing or being violent.
In 2009 Joy Division, a Goethe’s version of Faust and Katerini are created. This last show, Katerini, it is a five and a half hour performance that takes place in six rooms and an open, public space. The spectator visits the rooms by appointment and meets one performer, alone. The public space changes functions continuously: it’s a place of announcements, public speeches, entertainment, or just a meeting point where you can have your drink. The rooms, each one with its own scenario, narrate a whole new story, giving new light to the dramaturgy of the performance.
In 2010 Cinemascope arrives. It is a new performance genre, an amalgam of cinema and theatre. The spectators, wearing wireless headphones, isolated behind a glass wall, watch the ‘spectacle’ that is taking place out in the street. They see 13 performers live the last days of the world, along with random passers-by, who, without knowing it, participate in the performance. At the same time, they hear the thoughts of the performers along with fake sound effects that have nothing to do with what the reality they see in front of their eyes, texts that the actors perform live and the voice of an invisible narrator who leads them to the details of the story.
In 2011, Galaxy is first presented for the first time in a parking lot in Athens. A 3-to-7-hours-long game, it later went into repertory at the Berlin Schaubühne in 2012 and whose french version was created in the Centre National Dramatique in Reims as part of the 2013 Reims- scènes d’Europe festival.
From 2012 onwards, the european public starts beign acknowledged of Blitz’s productions. Guns! Guns! Guns!, a delirious review of the 20th century for six performers, is presented in the Théâtre de la Ville de Paris. From there it will travel for the next three years around festivals in France and Germany.
Meanwhile, in Greece, where the population express more than ever their disappointment and dissatisfaction with government politics and economics, Blitztheatregroup creates 2 productions to say goodbye to a world on the verge of disappereance : Don Quixote, a mix of invented and reenacted pathetic and violent adventures of an aged knight living in a nightmare, and Late Night, an invitation to have a dance over the ruins of a devasted Europe : to danse, to resist, to keep alive by the means of poetry. This last show has been presented in all major theaters in France and in prestigious festivals in Germany, Italy and Dutchland, like the Utrecht’s Huis A/D Werf or the Hanovre Theaterformen’s festival.
In 2014, the year of Blitztheatregroup’s 10th anniverssary, the original trio found themselves « alone » on stage with Vanya. 10 years after. In this production they mix Chekhov’s classic text with poetry from T.S.Elliot and rehearsal-written-texts. Vanya. 10 years after it’s a ceremony that tries to make peace with their past while making a poetic profecy and wish to the future.
In the 2015-2016 season, Blitz’s performances continue touring while they create a new production, 6 AM. How to disappear completely.
«They make their confessions in front of a microphone… they dance the waltz, they invent absurd competitions: they are delicate, profound and funny.»
Le Monde – Brigitte Salino
«…Witnesses of the end of the world, they remember the forlorn greatness of Paris, London or Zurich, cities that are destroyed after a world war… determined to never stop the dance… A piece of an unforgettable impact.»
Les Inrockuptibles – Patrick Sourd – 10.12.12
I do not know if I lost you because everything collapsed
Or if everything collapsed because I lost you.
How was this show conceived and how much Greek history has inspired it?
Once in New York, Aggeliki was waiting in the subway. It was written LATE NIGHTS on the train. She called us and told us she found it interesting as a title for our next piece. We agreed. Late Night meant for us a counter-productive hour of the day, when the people have finished with their everyday concerns, when they are more open to the unexpected, more sensitive An hour when they try to remember or forget. Dancing, drinking, telling stories. What does one do late at night? We also thought that the title Late Night was proper for the description of the current situation in Greece and in Europe. Our works are always influenced by what surrounds us. But not in a straightforward way, we are not reporters. We try to translate what’s going on around us in terms of sentiment and senses. So, Late Night is naturally a product of the current situation in Europe.
Europe in ruin and three couple dancing; art as an antidote to the crisis?
We have an absolutely ambivalent opinion as far as art is concerned. Our cynical self always reminds us that art has never really changed anything. That at some points, it looks like a luxury none cares for. Our romantic self, which usually wins finally, tells us not to stop trying, even if it’s a lost case.
Late Night is our most sentimental piece so far. It was produced during the most violent and critical era in modern Greece. While writing it, we believed and still believe that, in days like that, art must console, it must remind one of what life really is, it must involve questions about the existence itself. That it must move. And most of all it must remind of the beauty and of the importance and the adventure of being alive and of being in love.
After a tour in various European countries, finally you are going to show it in Italia, what are your expectations for your Umbria date?
This is our first visit in Italy and we certainly are looking forward to it. Our goal every night, is to achieve a certain quality of communication between the audience and the actors, without which, one just watches another theatre piece. While the point is to share an experience. To have accomplices and not spectators. We do not care so much about theatre itself, we use theatre as a means for something else. We hope to share this experience in Umbria.
What’s new in greek theatre and cinema?
The basic thing is that, during those last years, 30-year old women and men (or even younger) have grabbed a camera, or founded a theatre group and started telling their own stories. (That has almost never happened in Greece before) New stories, wondering about things that the previous generations never cared for or never questioned. Family, identity, love, war, violence, nothing is sacred for this new generation, somehow. Not caring about grandiose acting, grandiose direction rather than trying to tell a story using new forms and interested more in the life (liveliness) of the piece rather than its aesthetics.
Interview with Christos Passalis by Nino Marino for the Teatro Stabile dell’Umbria in september 2013